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Cartagena Protocol meeting exceeds expectations

Rt Hon Winston Peters, MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs

Hon David Benson-Pope, MP
Minister for the Environment

20 March 2006 Media Statement

Outcome of Cartagena Biosafety Protocol meeting exceeds New Zealand's expectations


The outcome of the third meeting of Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety exceeded New Zealand's expectations, say Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Environment Minister David Benson-Pope.

The third meeting of the Parties (MOP3) of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was held last week, 13-17 March in Brazil.

"Despite a massive disinformation campaign both here in New Zealand and abroad, the New Zealand delegation was able to protect New Zealand's key interests – particularly in relation to our crucial agricultural trade – promote the government's agreed position, while playing a constructive role within the meeting," Mr Peters said.

"The media in New Zealand has been quite prepared to repeat the propaganda of those antagonistic to New Zealand's position and so the record must be set straight.

"The most difficult issue for this meeting was on documentation where New Zealand had concerns that some proposals would go beyond the intent of the Protocol. We wanted to avoid outcomes that were unworkable in practice, and could have negative impact on our agricultural trade. The delegation was able to successfully achieve this.

"Coupled with this, New Zealand was able to protect our key interests, particularly protection of trade in conventional agricultural commodities, especially organic products, without needing to break consensus.

"The New Zealand delegation worked constructively during the meeting to achieve a decision that allowed for balanced and meaningful implementation of the documentation requirements that will not constitute a disguised restriction on trade.

"New Zealand negotiated constructively and I think most countries were convinced that the Protocol should not be utilised to establish technical barriers to trade," said Mr Peters.

Mr Benson-Pope said it had been important that adventitious presence of living modified organisms (LMOs) not be included in that part of the Protocol dealing with the deliberate trade in LMOs. Adventitious presence is the unintended and technically unavoidable presence of LMOs in a shipment. Inclusion of adventitious presence in a decision may have lead to a situation where all conventional agricultural shipments would be labelled 'may contain LMOs'.


ENDS

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